Lemogang Senwelo knew from the get-go that she wanted to live her life as a creator of jobs as opposed to being an employee.
From that moment, she has grown into a formidable entrepreneur, business leader and social activist. “I have never had a glamorous corporate job after my graduation as I have always seen myself as a director of my own company,” says Senwelo, who is managing director of Connect Circle.
The company builds networks and promotes foreign direct investment and trade in Botswana and the African continent. “I worked for a media consultancy for about four months and that stint was enough to convince me that working for someone else was a nightmare. I quit the job as I wanted to change the world by making great things happen for young business people.”
She started her full-time entrepreneurship journey in 2015 as a partner in a project management company called Pareil Group. It focused on monitoring and evaluation of projects that young people embarked on. “It was then that I learnt to fight for a dream that only I could see. I was not deterred by the fact that some people thought I lacked experience and was young. I kept knocking on doors. I grew in strength, maturity and resilience from that experience,” she says.
“Sadly, the company folded. That was my first failure,” Senwelo says.
She soldiered on and whilst completing her studies in Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Botswana, she was involved in a number of businesses activities; selling cosmetics, clothes and cell phones. All this, while mentoring a number of her peers in entrepreneurship.
Infographic by TYI
Those initial steps saw the birth of the groundbreaking Africa Youth Entrepreneurs Summit (AYES), a platform for young entrepreneurs to expand their businesses through mentorship, education and coaching by game-changers in the world of business.
AYES is held in Gaborone, Botswana, and has already connected with more than eight countries across the continent. “Many youths have brilliant start-up ideas but lack the assertiveness to take the first step. By bringing their peers and the best entrepreneurial minds for a brainstorming and networking sessions we are contributing to spurring them on in the right direction,” she says.
Senwelo also established an NGO called “Kitso Boswa Rehabilitation” centre, to help people, particularly the youth, deal with depression and anxiety. The main focus is to help them deal with the effects of unemployment and depression. “I was able to change my community as the stigma associated with depression was slowly going away,” she says.